Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Good news comes in a small package - with feathers

With all the really bad, no-good, horrible, awful news of the day, from disarray in the climate change talks, to confusion about Health Care Reform and whether it is really going to happen, to Wall Street giving its usual obscene end-of-the-year bonuses, to more troops being sent to Afghanistan - well, it's enough to depress even the most optimistic person.

Imagine my utter delight then when, today, I ran across the story of the Limestone Leaf Warbler.

This tiny bird, a previously unknown species, has been discovered in the forests of Vietnam and Laos. It is a yellow and green bird that was first sighted in 1994, but at that time it was thought that it was merely a subspecies of the Sulphur-breasted Warbler, a well-documented species in the area. Now, however, studies of the bird's morphology, DNA, and vocalizations have confirmed that it is a distinct species.

Not only is this a "new" bird, but unlike so many recently discovered species that have only been found when they are on the brink of extirpation, this little bird seems to have a healthy population and is doing quite well, thank you!

The bird is a member of the Phylloscopus family and is not closely related to the wood warblers (family Parulidae) that brighten life for bird watchers all over the Americas.

I'm sure that I will never see a Limestone Leaf Warbler, but just to know it exists makes me happy and offsets some of the bad karma emanating from Washington these days. Sometimes hope is a thing with feathers.

(Read more about the bird's discovery at A DC Birding Blog.)

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